Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has insisted that Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation, was wrong with his analogy comparing the ban on open grazing to a potential ban on the sale of spare parts.
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Adegboruwa said this in a statement on Thursday in response to comments made Malami on the ban of open grazing as declared by the governors of southern Nigeria.
In what is now popularly known as the Asaba Accord, the southern governors had at their meeting in Asaba, the Delta State capital, last Tuesday announced the ban on open grazing across the region.
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But Malami said the declaration by the southern governors is null and void, saying the decision is akin to northern governors outlawing the sale of spare parts in their region.
Reacting to the AGF’s statement, Adegboruwa stated that the right to the movement of cattle cannot be equated to a citizen’s right of owning a property in the country.
According to the senior lawyer, the AGF’s analogy is a gross misrepresentation of the spirit and letter of the 1999 constitution (as amended), explaining that depriving a citizen the right to own property because of grazing is tantamount to trespassing.
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The statement read: “You cannot deploy the right to movement of person and cattle to violate the right of another citizen to own property, such as land or farmland, or else you become a trespasser.
“It is in this regard that I disagree with the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation, when he said that the ban on open grazing is unconstitutional. That cannot represent a proper interpretation of the Constitution, with all due respect.”
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Adegboruwa added that Malami erred in his role as a minister as he usurped the function of the courts to interpret the constitution and make proclamations on matters of legal jurisprudence.
“The AGF is a member of the Executive arm of government, under section 5 of the Constitution. The Constitution has not assigned any role to the AGF to make proclamations for the country. To that extent, his comment is ultra vires, being beyond and outside his office as a Minister.
“The role of interpreting the Constitution is the exclusive preserve of the Courts under the Constitution,” the statement read.